Whether your workplace participates in National Take Your Dog to Work Day (the Friday after Father’s Day each year—that’s June 23 in 2023) or has a policy in place that allows you to bring your dog into the office on a regular basis, there are important points to consider before taking your dog to work to make sure you both benefit from the experience.
Should you take your dog to work?
Not every dog is a good fit for spending time in an office. New places, people, and pets can all be very stressful, so some pups may be too anxious or overstimulated to thrive in an office. Ask yourself these questions to gauge if your dog would be comfortable in your workplace:
- Is my dog comfortable around people?
- Is my dog comfortable around other dogs?
- Has my dog ever bitten a person or another dog?
- Does my dog bark or cry when left alone?
- Does my dog bark or cry when they see people or dogs?
- Does my workplace have a pet policy that requires proof of vaccination?
- Do I work near people who are allergic to dogs?
- Is there easily accessible outdoor space near the office for relief breaks and walks?
- Am I often in conference rooms or offsite meetings that would mean leaving my dog alone?
You know your dog best, so consider their personality and energy levels as well. Some dogs are naturally very active and get bored in an office setting (which can lead to restlessness or misbehaving). Some dogs don’t enjoy busy environments, so an active or noisy workplace might not be a good idea for sensitive dogs.
All dogs love routines, so whatever you decide try to stick to a schedule. If you only take your dog to work with you sporadically, the unpredictable change could cause them stress.
Prepare Your Pup
Before you take your dog to work, stop by after hours or on a weekend to show your pup around the place! Provide lots of treats, like these Just Jerky Bites, to create a positive association with the office space. Take it slow as you introduce your pup to new spaces, and allow them to explore to become familiar with the new sights and smells. If your pup will be interacting with other dogs in the workplace, introduce them to each new dog in a neutral space, like on a walk together.
If you take an elevator to your office make sure your dog is comfortable riding in it, and train them on elevator etiquette if necessary (or plan on taking the stairs).
Create a Cozy Corner
Make your office or cubicle into the ultimate pet space when you take your dog to work! Your pup will be spending a lot of time in your space as you work, so make sure they have cozy nap spots and toys to keep them busy. Bring a bed and a blanket from your home so that the scents are familiar and comforting. Also, bring some toys or activities for your pup to play with while you are in meetings, and avoid squeaker toys. If your workspace does not have a door, a gate with a door works perfectly for keeping your pup close by and safe. You could also use a long tether that doesn’t let your dog wander out of your sight.
Dog-proof your workspace and any areas your dog will have access to by tucking away wires and cables, and any other items they might be tempted to chew. Make sure any dog-height trash cans have a lid, and put communal snack or candy bowls out of reach.
Choose a good place for your dog’s food and water dishes away from high-traffic areas. Provide fresh water all day, but only bring out the food bowl at mealtime.
For easy accident clean-up, be sure to bring paper towels and an enzymatic pet stain cleaner in addition to frequent potty breaks to avoid accidents. If you are bringing a new puppy, consider adding puppy pads to your workspace as well!
Establish a Routine
Once your dog is familiar with the office spaces and coworkers (both pets and people) you are now ready to take your dog to work! If possible, take your dog for a walk before work so that they don’t start the work day with too much extra energy. Be sure to always keep your dog on a leash and abide by your workplace’s pet guidelines. As your pup is adjusting to their new 9-to-5 life, provide distracting activities like frozen Kongs/Toppls to keep them busy and quiet. This will also help them practice being calm and relaxed during the workday.
In addition to a stuffed or frozen Kong, provide mental stimulation to your dog throughout the day with things like:
- Slow feeder bowls
- Breaks to go outside as often as your schedule allows
- Interactive toys that don’t make noise
- Snuffle mats
- Dog TV shows on a tablet at low or no volume (if your dog enjoys watching)
Don’t put out all the toys or brain games at the same time – rotate which activities are available so your dog has something new to be interested in throughout the day and week.
Service Dogs at Work
Title I of the ADA says that service animals are a reasonable accommodation in a place of employment. If your workplace doesn’t allow dogs but you have a service animal, you’ll need to make a request that your service dog be allowed to accompany you to work as an accommodation for your disability. You can find more information about taking service dogs to work from the ADA National Network.
Therapy Dogs at Work
While emotional support dogs aren’t the same as service dogs, ADA regulations don’t specify whether ESAs can be considered a reasonable workplace accommodation—though the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 does make it possible for anxiety disorders, PTSD and other mental health disorders to be covered.
If your workplace doesn’t allow dogs but you need to bring your emotional support dog, you should make a request with your employer and be prepared to provide medical documentation of your disability if they ask.
Benefits of Bringing Your Dog to Work
The benefits of having your service dog or ESA at work with you are clear, but spending the work day with your canine companion has benefits for all pet parents:
- Reduced stress
- Bonding with other dog parents (and coworkers who love dogs)
- Taking breaks to walk outside is great exercise, and can boost your energy & creativity
- More flexibility at the end of the work day (no need to race home right away)
- Big savings if you normally pay for doggy day care or a dog walker during the work day
Bringing your dog along with you to work each day is a wonderful privilege for both you and your dog. Enjoy having your cozy coworker by your side and reward them for their hard work! Monitor your dog’s body language throughout the day for signs of stress or anxiety, especially the first few times, to make sure they’re loving the experience as much as you are.
Learn More from Stella & Chewy’s
At Stella & Chewy’s, we always want pets and pet parents to live happy and healthy lives! To learn more tricks and tips, stay up-to-date on products, or be in-the-know for all things pet, be sure to check out Our Blog: For the Pet Obsessed.
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